According to its creator, who calls himself Notch:
The game is still very early in development, but here is a list of things we hope to include: Hard science fiction, lots of engineering, fully working computer system, space battles against the AI or other players, abandoned ships full of loot, duct tape!, seamlessly landing on planets, advanced economy system, random encounters, mining, trading, and looting, and single and multi-player connected via the multiverse.
Of particular interest to the game-playing programming community (the same one that likes Core Wars and other programmable games) is the DCPU-16, the ship computer that consists of a virtual 16-bit processor that’s programmed in assembly language and converted to code by an assembler.
Eventually there’ll be an arms race as developers release C or other compilers that output DCPU-16 machine code. Games in the 1980s were mostly programmed in assembler (I worked in that industry for five years), but at first impression the programs will look like this snippet from an example in the spec:
; Try some basic stuff
SET A, 0x30
SET [0x1000], 0x20
SUB A, [0x1000]
IFN A, 0x10
SET PC, crash
From a technical point of view, assembly language is the lowest level, nearest to the machine and consequently the least productive. Past studies have shown that it takes about the same length of time to write 10 lines of C as it does 10 lines of assembly language. Those ten lines of C may be the equivalent of 500 lines of assembly language.
If this aspect of the game appeals to you, take a look at the specification for the DCPU-16. Less than a week after the first announcement, a community of players has formed around 0x10c. At least two developers have already released open source development tools for the DCPU-16, and the newly setup forums are starting to buzz.
Notch has been quite transparent about the game’s progress and has included a development status on the 0x10c.com home page where you can see what’s been finished.
Will This be Another Success Like Minecraft?
The world has certainly grown tired of waiting for Elite 4 to be released. It was announced in 1998 but still isn’t scheduled for launch, so 0x10c could fill that gap. With the amazing success of Minecraft and the resources to develop 0x10c, I wouldn’t want to bet against it, but I don’t expect it to have Thargoids or Witch-space!